- Age of business: 40 months
- Name of business: Wholi
- Location: Bristol & Bucharest
- Team: Alexandra Bucataru, Alexandru Tomescu, Alexandru Cazacu, Andreea Mihalcea, Bogdan Mihai, Constantin Alexandru Tudorica, Radu Iacob, Razvan Dinu, Tom Savage, Traian Rebedea, Zsolt Incze
- Funding: €100k
What does Wholi do?
Wholi is building a people search engine, making it easy to find the right people
How did you meet?
With a people search, of course. It took Tom over 6 months to find Raz, after scouring the world and identifying over 2000 people and interviewing 200. At the time, Raz was an international math Olympiad, finishing his PhD in Artificial Intelligence. Since then, we’ve been using Wholi much more for our people searches!
Where did the business idea come from?
We noticed that if you want to know what something is, or where it is – there is Google, or maps. But if you want to figure out who to do something with – like a co-founder, doctor, or teacher – that there’s no easy way.
Over 3bn searches a day are for people, yet there’s no way to comprehensively search someone’s online footprint. We want to build a tool that enables everyone to find who they need.
We believe that when the right people find each other, amazing things happen.
Are you working with any other partners?
We have fantastic, supportive investors, including BGF Ventures, 500 Startups, Playfair Capital, Spring Partners, IDG China, DN Capital, Social Leverage, Andy Phillipps and more.
How has ODINE helped you so far?
Well, we’ve just begun, but have already indexed over 2bn public profiles. One of the areas we’re most interested in is using our technology to better understand who’s who in different sectors. So far, wholi has built tools to help people in the technology sector find one another, like startups looking for software engineers.
The ODINE funding will be used to build a who’s who of the influential people in the political arena. We hope that by better understanding the people running, funding and participating in the political process, we’ll enable citizens to make better choices about who they want to support.
What advice would you give to other companies pitching to ODINE?
Open data is becoming relevant for more and more domains. But, in most situations, open data might prove not to be a viable solution on its own to develop a business. Our advice is to extend open datasets in innovative ways using other sources of online public and, where relevant, proprietary data.
How would you encourage big business to buy into the open data movement?
These are fascinating times. Data is growing exponentially (or close to), with more and more people creating, sharing and consuming data due to internet speeds, penetration and the proliferation of new devices. However, much of that data is increasingly ringfenced by companies who recognise the value of that data – Facebook, LinkedIn and others are making it harder and harder for others to access these troves of data that these companies have gathered.
Open data adds more value to people, increases innovation and also allows large companies to create a relationship of trust with their users. We believe that people should own and eventually restrict the data they produce, even if this data is produced in operating systems, social networks, etc.
What’s the key trend in open data at the moment?
There is more and more open data and also more and more ‘closed’/proprietary data, both of which is valuable. However, there is also a lot of noise in any data and we think many people are struggling to extract value from data in meaningful and useful ways. Even in our own sector – with people data – there are lots of different ways you can ‘use’ it.
(This story also appeared on the Guardian)